Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Everyone's got something no one else can do (Perrin Lamb)

Here is the second of Anne McMullan's five key critical skills students need:

2 Tolerance for ambiguity

According to her, "It is essential that today’s students develop the skills to think through ambiguous situations and stay with the question—in a state of ambiguity—until they have the time to examine various aspects and perspectives on the issue."

I'm not going to argue with her about the need for this - it seems self evident in the complex 21st century world we find ourselves living in that flexibility, adaptability and versatility will be much valued as skills.

Having worked in the Middle East - Qatar and the U.A.E. - this particular skill was much in demand and people who couldn't adapt did not survive.

But what of my current students?

Unfortunately many of them still want 'the answer'. Rather than do a work around and explore and develop their thinking on an idea they want to move onto the next point as quickly as they can (while checking with me constantly that they are on the right lines).

This exploring, probing, inquiring, developing, looking for connections skill is often what leads to a perceptive, original thought which is then rewarded with an 'excellence' grade in our current system. 

So, how do I help my students learn how to tease out their thoughts, expand their thinking and dig deeper?

Giving them an answer is NOT the answer to that question. 

Back in the day, I used reflective journals in my media studies classes and they were a brilliant week by week vehicle for my students to make discoveries, ask questions, pursue lines of inquiry. 

Boy - do I miss them!

For what it's worth, in these post NCEA days in English I use mind mapping and Socratic questions, discussions and one on one conferences, listening to them articulate their problem and leaving space for them to answer.

My students often find this frustrating and give me the sense that they would rather go somewhere else to get 'the answer' if I don't provide it. 

But I persist. 

Whaia kia maia (pursue it until it is conquered) is written on my classroom door!

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